The 12 Days of an Major League Baseball Christmas: 2023 in review

Fenway Park Snow
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One of the things that connects us as humans to the sport of baseball is the synchrony of the start of each MLB season with the start of spring.

The grass begins to green, flowers bloom, the days get longer and the warmth of the sun and the promise that comes with the start of a new baseball season are ever-present. Much like the 12 Days of Christmas, each game of the season promises excitement as it becomes a stage where records get shattered and new milestones reached, making every pitch, swing and play a potential moment for history-making firsts in America's beloved pastime.

This year was no exception.

12 Days of an MLB Christmas

On the first day of Christmas…

The Texas Rangers notched their first World Series Championship in their 62nd year of franchise existence. During their postseason campaign, they went undefeated on the road with an 11-0 record, topping the previously held MLB record of 9-0 set in multiple seasons prior by the New York Yankees.

In his ninth major league season, Corey Seager, shortstop for the Texas Rangers, became the first infielder in MLB history to be named the World Series MVP in both leagues, just three years after being named the 2020 World Series MVP with the Dodgers.

Corbin Carroll, outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks, became the first rookie in franchise history to be named the Rookie of the Year.

Elias Diaz, outfielder for the Colorado Rockies made history as the first player in franchise history to be named the All-Star Game MVP.

Gerrit Cole, ace for the New York Yankees, secured his first Cy Young by a landslide, earning 100% of the votes for the 2023 American League Cy Young. Cole joined Ron Guidry as the second ace in New York Yankees history to win the award unanimously.

On the second day of Christmas…

Thirty-year-old veteran ace Blake Snell was named the National League Cy Young, his second Cy Young award with a second team and second league. Snell became the seventh pitcher in MLB history to earn this feat, alongside Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay and Max Scherzer. Snell earned his first Cy Young in 2018 with the Tampa Bay Rays. Snell entered free agency after the 2023 season.

On the third day of Christmas...

Veteran relief pitcher, Will Smith, won his third World Series Championship in as many years with as many different teams. You read that right. In 2021, Smith won a World Series Championship with the Atlanta Braves, in 2022 with the Houston Astros and in 2023 with the Texas Rangers. Smith entered free agency after the 2023 season and was signed by the Kansas City Royals. The pressure to keep the streak alive is on at the K. 

Three-time National League Manager of the Year, Dusty Baker, announced his retirement after his second season with the Houston Astros. In his 26-year managerial stretch, Baker led his teams to three World Series appearances and tallied 2,183 regular-season wins, ranking him the seventh winningest manager in MLB history, per Baseball Reference.

On the fourth day of Christmas...

Houston Astros’ two-time American League MVP and second baseman, Jose Altuve, became the first player in the expansion era to hit four home runs in four consecutive at-bats.

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy came out of retirement after a four-year stint off, and did so in style when he led the Rangers to their first World Series Championship, his fourth. Bochy is one of just three managers to have won a World Series Championship in both leagues.  

On the fifth day of Christmas...

Ronald Acuña Jr., outfielder for the Atlanta Braves, joined the ranks of Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano when he became the fifth player and the first Venezuelan to record at least 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in an MLB single season. He also is the only player in MLB history with at least 40 home runs and 70 stolen bases in a single season.

On the sixth day of Christmas...

Shohei Ohtani completed his sixth and final season with the Angels, earning his second American League MVP with an even 6.0 WAR. Ohtani entered free agency after the 2023 season and will start the 2024 season across town in Dodger Blue after signing a 10-year, $700 million contract.

On the seventh day of Christmas...

After 19 seasons, 484 home runs and eight teams, designated hitter and outfielder, Nelson Cruz, hung up his cleats for retirement. Cruz was a seven-time all-star and completed seven seasons with 90 or more RBI.

On the eighth day of Christmas...

In his eighth season in the bigs, single-season American League home run record holder and Captain of the New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, rose to the top as the fastest player in MLB history to reach 250 home runs.

On the ninth day of Christmas...

After serving the longest tenure of nine years as the Milwaukee Brewers’ manager with three division titles and five postseason appearances, Craig Counsell packed his bags for a southern division rival when the Chicago Cubs signed him to a five-year, $40 million contract.

On the tenth day of Christmas...

The Baltimore Orioles claimed the American League Division title for the 10th time in franchise history, the team’s first since 2014. The O’s finished the season with a 100-59 record, their first season with 100 or more wins since 1980, per Baseball Reference.

On the eleventh day of Christmas...

Longtime Cleveland Guardians Manager, Terry Francona “Tito”, announced his retirement after 11 years in Cleveland. During his 19 year managerial tenure, he won 1,950 games and lost 1,672, a winning percentage of .538, per Baseball Reference. He made 11 postseason appearances and was the winningest manager in Guardians history.

The Cardinals beloved “Waino” Adam Wainwright joined his sidekick, Yadier Molina, and his other sidekick, Louie, a Lagotto Romagnolo puppy gifted to him by the St. Louis Cardinals, in retirement after an incredibly colorful 18-year career. The right-handed hurler finished his career with a record of 200-128, a 3.53 ERA, three All-Star appearances, two Gold Glove awards, one World Series and 11 career shutouts, according to Baseball Reference.

On the twelfth day of Christmas..

Speaking of a colorful career, we can’t leave out Miggy. Miguel Cabrera completed his 21st and final season as a Detroit Tiger.

During his MLB tenure, he amassed 3,174 hits, 511 home runs, 1,881 RBI and several awards. Of those home runs, he tallied 25 or more home runs in 12 seasons. His awards include MVP (2), 12 All-Star appearances, seven Silver Slugger Awards and one Triple Crown. He was a 2003 World Series Champion with the Florida Marlins. The Tigers knew they couldn’t keep Miggy away for long when they named him a special assistant to the president of baseball operations.

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